Three golden rules to make your API strategy deliver real business outcomes

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Organizations need an API and integration strategy. It’s both an essential building block for supporting overall business strategy and a critical enabler of digital transformation. 

We’ve seen examples where having a clear API strategy has had a big effect on a client’s business performance by opening up new channels for business growth.

Why an API strategy? The digital world is becoming more interconnected which makes APIs increasingly important. They’re the connecting link between applications, systems, databases and devices.

And it goes without saying that opening up your services via APIs allows you to reach a far larger audience, open up new channels, and reuse existing assets to rapidly create innovations. The result is the ability to monetize existing resources. This trend is now being exploited by more traditional sectors to give themselves market advantage. Not only that, governments and industry bodies are creating legislation requiring organizations to open up the data from their business, such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) regulating the payment services sector.

It is no wonder then that having a strategy to deliver new business services through APIs is an essential part of the modern enterprise IT mix. And the strategy must be clear, agile, flexible, and cost-effective.

But many enterprises complain that they don’t see the business value from their API strategy. Thus, the following three golden rules are my recommendations for delivering success in this new API economy.

Rule No 1: Ensure you have a good understanding of your existing IT estate, particularly data.

This is really difficult in a complex enterprise where systems may have been around for a long time, but are not well understood, or their purpose may have changed or been partly replaced by something else. Yet however difficult, investment in this is critical for engendering a coherent and successful API strategy.

Rule No 2: Consider adopting an API-first approach.

API-first is particularly suited to cloud development. Here we see all the hallmarks of rapid prototyping, services ecosystem and continuous delivery pipelines. In particular, an API-first approach allows early conversations with customers. It makes it possible to generate user stories and to mock-up APIs and even web or mobile app interfaces, further enhancing and validating your API strategy. This can also be done in parallel with defining the corporate data model.

Rule No 3: Make a sound business case for enterprise-wide adoption.

To help gain the investment needed to support an API strategy, organizations need buy-in from the wider business. This can be achieved through education and by growing an understanding of the opportunities for exploiting an API and integration strategy. When the rest of the business sees the value, the business case is clear. We achieved this buy-in with one client with a practical demonstration of how an API-led approach to delivering business services could deliver pre-defined business outcomes. This helped to take a highly CIO-driven initiative and make it real for other parts of the business. In turn, this led to further transformative projects that significantly improved business performance.

Here’s how we promoted an API economy in the automotive industry.

Our client recognized that, to gain market advantage, the company needed to be able to integrate the latest innovations with its existing IT landscape rapidly and consistently. It saw mobile as the first step in the journey, but also understood that it needed to expose the information in its back-end services to enable this. The CIO understood that a new-age platform was needed for this, but building one could have been costly and time consuming.

We resolved this and quickly delivered real business value by adapting our readily available API and hybrid integration platform, Capgemini Enterprise iPaaS. The manufacturer didn’t need the necessary IT skills or to invest the time to deliver the platform, but rather could focus on business value. The company was able to quickly build something tangible (a prototype) that could be promoted internally to highlight how the platform could be used to support continued innovation, deliver a richer customer experience, and transform the business to achieve a sustainable future.

This is the very real outcome of sticking to the golden rules outlined above and ensuring APIs are a key part of your innovation and business strategy in today’s digital landscape. Learn more about Capgemini Enterprise iPaaS.

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